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FCC on the Warpath

This article is more than 19 years old.
photoJanet Jackson's split-second breast baring on Super Bowl night sent FCC Chairman Michael Powell on a warpath. He launched an investigation and congressional hearings into the incident.

Now members of Congress are hoping to crack down on nudity and obscenity on the airwaves. The House will vote tomorrow on new legislation that would raise fines from $27,500 per violation to a maximum of $500,000. President Bush indicated he supports the bill. A Senate panel is also prepared to support a broad crackdown. The nation's largest radio company, Clear Channel, responded to the Super Bowl baring by dumping shock jocks Howard Stern and Bubba the Love Sponge in several of its markets. ABC and CBS are telling producers to cut sexually explicit material. Even the Oscars were transmitted with a five-second delay so foul language or suggestive behavior wouldn't reach millions of households.

Tonight, On Point: cracking down on obscenity, nudity, and maybe more in our airwaves.


Paul Levinson, chairman of the communication and media studies department at Fordham University. His op-ed "The FCC and Halftime: Censorship can be a dangerous weapon" recently appeared in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He is author of "The Soft Edge: A Natural History and Future of the Information Revolution.";
James Steyer, chairman, Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization that monitors U.S. media policy. He is also a lecturer at Stanford University and author of "The Other Parent, The Inside Story of the Media's Effect on our Children"

Tom Taylor, editor of Inside Radio, a daily industry newsletter;Sandra Tsing Loh, writer, performer and musician. She was a regular commentator for Los Angeles' NPR affiliate KCRW until she was pulled off the air for uttering an obscenity February 29. She is author of "If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home by Now," "Depth Takes a Holiday: Essays from Lesser Los Angeles" and "Aliens in America."

This program aired on March 10, 2004.


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